...in my family, confesses Dani Ndebele.
I am guilty.
I have knowingly and willingly bribed, conned and hoodwinked my kids in order to get my way. I have cajoled them with lollipops, coerced them with ice-cream, enticed them with Happy Meals and extorted good behavior out of them with the promise of pizza (to name but a few of my heinous crimes).
We all know that point of reckoning. There you are in a public space, a frazzled, bedraggled wreck engaged in a battle of wills with a 4-year-old. This little person knows exactly what he wants and exactly how to get it out of you – by whining, whinging, screaming, crying, stamping his feet with admirable tenacity and sometimes hanging onto your leg and dragging along.
Its hot, you’re tired, you have a headache, you’re embarrassed and most of all – you’re not winning. That’s when the bargaining begins…
Your mind races and you start to scheme and connive. How can you get this child to co-operate? By now you have tried the ignore tactic, the talking with a reasonable and firm voice, the logical explanation of why he should listen to you, the “look” and maybe even a little threat of violence.
You know your child and what makes his little mind tick. He would delight at a new toy or maybe a gooey chocolate or anything that goes against your better judgement as a parent. You think about how you nobly swore that you would never ply your kids with sweets and junk food and never, ever give in to their tantrums – but you have now reached your wits end.
Bugger nobility, overlook healthy, sugar free living, disregard excess salt, oil, MSG and tartrazine, flout the laws of parental guidance and hey – while you’re at it – just go ahead and empty your wallet at the entertainment centre.
You collapse in a heap on the nearest chair full of guilt, remorse, but a huge sense of relief. Your angry, screaming child is now chirpy and happy as can be, and all is calm once again. The guilt still lingers, but at least you got your way in the end – or did you? Where does bribery of children lead? Is it okay to do it sometimes?